Oak Creek, Wisconsin, August 5, 2012
Congregants had gathered in the lobby of the Sikh Gurdwara in suburbs of Milwaukee and Langar was being prepared as congregants were arriving for Sunday services.
Instead of worshipers, though, an armed man stepped through the door and started firing. Sunday's attack occurred about 10:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. ET), when Gurdwara members were reading scriptures and cooking food in preparation for the main Sunday service and community lunch.
In an attack categorized as domestic terrorism and hate crime incident, the gunman stalked through the Gurdwara Sahib and started firing. The congregants ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls, where they made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold. Witnesses described a scene of chaos and carnage.
Six people were killed and three others were wounded on Sunday at the 17,000-square-foot Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The Oak Creek Gurdwara opened in 2007 and has a congregation of more than 350.
The gunman’s rampage ended when one of the first police officers to arrive shot and killed him. Another police officer, who tried to aid a victim, was ambushed by the gunman and shot multiple times. He was in critical condition but survived.
Four bodies were found inside the temple and three outside, including that of the gunman, Chief Wentlandt said.
John Edwards, the police chief in Oak Creek, said at a news conference that weapons had been found at the scene. He said the F.B.I. would lead the investigation.
President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, released statements on Sunday expressing sorrow.
Many members of the close-knit Sikh community here said the attack had shattered their sense of security. Though violence against Sikhs in Wisconsin was unheard of before the shooting, many in this community said they had sensed a rise in antipathy since the attacks on Sept. 11 and suspected it was because people mistake them for Muslims. Followers of Sikhism, a monotheistic faith founded in the 15th century in North India by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Sikhs do not cut their hair, and men often wear colorful turbans and refrain from cutting their beards as a respect towards God as Sikhs live the way God made us.
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New York Times: Gunman Kills Six at a Sikh Temple near Milwaukee
Gunman, six others dead at Wisconsin Sikh temple